Saturday, September 6, 2014

September 6 2014. The extraordinarily quotable Charles Bukowski—and how right he is (specially about writing, the commitment it demands, the need for solitude, and the unacceptability of alternative ways of life).

“He asked, "What makes a man a writer?" "Well," I said, "it's simple. You either get it down on paper, or jump off a bridge.”
Charles Bukowski

“Writers are desperate people and when they stop being desperate they stop being writers.”
Charles Bukowski

“There's nothing to stop a man from writing unless that man stops himself. If a man truly desires to write, then he will. Rejection and ridicule will only strengthen him. And the longer he is held back the stronger he will become, like a mass of rising water against a dam. There is no losing in writing, it will make your toes laugh as you sleep, it will make you stride like a tiger, it will fire the eye and put you face to face with death. You will die a fighter, you will be honored in hell. The luck of the word. Go with it, send it.”
Charles Bukowski, The Captain is Out to Lunch and the Sailors Have Taken Over the Ship

“It was a joy! Words weren't dull, words were things that could make your mind hum. If you read them and let yourself feel the magic, you could live without pain, with hope, no matter what happened to you.”
Charles Bukowski, Ham on Rye

“When I begin to doubt my ability to work the word, I simply read another writer and know I have nothing to worry about. My contest is only with myself, to do it right, with power, and force, and delight, and gamble.”
Charles Bukowski

“Without literature, life is hell.”
Charles Bukowski

“In the morning it was morning and I was still alive.
Maybe I'll write a novel, I thought.
And then I did.”
Charles Bukowski, Post Office

“Great writers are indecent people
they live unfairly
saving the best part for paper.
good human beings save the world
so that bastards like me can keep creating art,
become immortal.
if you read this after I am dead
it means I made it.”
Charles Bukowski, The People Look Like Flowers at Last

I was introduced to Bukowski by a very beautiful Irish redhead—someone who remains very special to me to this day. I lusted after—loved—and won the woman—but only fleetingly. She has another man’s wife. Love is a wonderful thing, but painful—damnably painful.

Sex is like love—without the pain. Sex, when you are in love, defines ecstasy. We made love a great deal, and  when I recall our intimacy, I can but feel joy—and weep. So much passion. So much loss. So much love. So much emotional confusion. So much tenderness.

For whatever reason, Bukowski didn’t have much impact on me the first time around. I think I was fully focused on the lady in questions. Perhaps I just needed to live a little longer—and a whole lot harder.

I have done my best.

Bukowski certainly set the tone. He had one of the most lived-in, ruined, faces I have ever seen—and, by all accounts—it was well earned, hard won—and entirely reflective of the man’s lifestyle. The man lived, thought, rebelled, smoked, drank, fucked, created, and wrote—to admirable excess.

This was a man who believed in—and lived---total commitment to the creative way of life.

I am lost in admiration—yet I feel entirely unable to do him justice..

This is what Wiki says about him.

Henry Charles Bukowski (born Heinrich Karl Bukowski; August 16, 1920 – March 9, 1994) was a German-born American poet, novelist and short story writer.

His writing was influenced by the social, cultural, and economic ambience of his home city of Los Angeles ('LA').[4] His work addresses the ordinary lives of poor Americans, the act of writing, alcohol, relationships with women, and the drudgery of work. Bukowski wrote thousands of poems, hundreds of short stories and six novels, eventually publishing over sixty books. The FBI kept a file on him as a result of his column, Notes of a Dirty Old Man, in the LA underground newspaper Open City.[5]

In 1986 Time called Bukowski a "laureate of American lowlife".[6] Regarding Bukowski's enduring popular appeal, Adam Kirsch of The New Yorker wrote, "the secret of Bukowski's appeal. . . [is that] he combines the confessional poet's promise of intimacy with the larger-than-life aplomb of a pulp-fiction hero."[7]

Shakespeare apart—and I’m not even sure about that—Bukowski may well be the most quotable author I have ever run across. His observations have a sniper’s accuracy. This was one exceptionally talented, empathetic man.

His words resonate with particular emphasis when he writes about writing—and what I think about much of life. We have similar understandings. We share beliefs—and an understanding of the commitment required. 

“If you're going to try, go all the way. Otherwise, don't even start. This could mean losing girlfriends, wives, relatives and maybe even your mind. It could mean not eating for three or four days. It could mean freezing on a park bench. It could mean jail. It could mean derision. It could mean mockery--isolation. Isolation is the gift. All the others are a test of your endurance, of how much you really want to do it. And, you'll do it, despite rejection and the worst odds. And it will be better than anything else you can imagine. If you're going to try, go all the way. There is no other feeling like that. You will be alone with the gods, and the nights will flame with fire. You will ride life straight to perfect laughter. It's the only good fight there is.”
Charles Bukowski, Factotum

“I don't hate people. I just feel better when they aren't around.”
Charles Bukowski

“An intellectual says a simple thing in a hard way. An artist says a hard thing in a simple way.”
Charles Bukowski

“Some people never go crazy. What truly horrible lives they must lead.”
Charles Bukowski

“This is very important -- to take leisure time. Pace is the essence. Without stopping entirely and doing nothing at all for great periods, you're gonna lose everything...just to do nothing at all, very, very important. And how many people do this in modern society? Very few. That's why they're all totally mad, frustrated, angry and hateful.”
Charles Bukowski

“I was a man who thrived on solitude; without it I was like another man without food or water. Each day without solitude weakened me. I took no pride in my solitude; but I was dependent on it. The darkness of the room was like sunlight to me.”
Charles Bukowski, Factotum

“It was true that I didn’t have much ambition, but there ought to be a place for people without ambition, I mean a better place than the one usually reserved. How in the hell could a man enjoy being awakened at 6:30 a.m. by an alarm clock, leap out of bed, dress, force-feed, shit, piss, brush teeth and hair, and fight traffic to get to a place where essentially you made lots of money for somebody else and were asked to be grateful for the opportunity to do so?”
Charles Bukowski, Factotum

“I couldn't get myself to read the want ads. The thought of sitting in front of a man behind a desk and telling him that I wanted a job, that I was qualified for a job, was too much for me. Frankly, I was horrified by life, at what a man had to do simply in order to eat, sleep, and keep himself clothed. So I stayed in bed and drank. When you drank the world was still out there, but for the moment it didn't have you by the throat.”
Charles Bukowski

“My dear,
Find what you love and let it kill you.
Let it drain you of your all. Let it cling onto your back and weigh you down into eventual nothingness.
Let it kill you and let it devour your remains.
For all things will kill you, both slowly and fastly, but it’s much better to be killed by a lover.”
Charles Bukowski

“What matters most is how well you walk through the fire”
Charles Bukowski

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